Behavior Modification Assignment

Behavior Modification Assignment

• Course Objective 4: Apply principles of cognition, including theories of learning,

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memory, and intelligence.

• Course Objective 10: Apply course concepts to one’s daily life.


Most of us have at some time or another, have made attempts at self-improvement. Sometimes these attempts work well and sometimes they don’t. This assignment provides you with a framework to utilize concepts from Chapter 5 to develop your own plan to change a problem behavior. By doing this assignment, you should also gain a better understanding of the differences between positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment. These are concepts that may also help you shape the behavior of others (children, pets, etc). Be creative and have fun connecting the learning topics to your own life.


1. Think of a behavior you wish to modify. The behavior could be one you would like to stop (e.g., smoking, nail biting, eating junk food) or a habit you would like to start (e.g., exercising, eating well, studying, getting more sleep). The easiest kinds of behaviors to work on are ones that are outwardly observable.

2. Create a document (save as .doc, .docx, .pdf, or .pages)

3. Write a 1-2 page paper (12 pt. font and double spaced) addressing the following:

a. Start your paper with a description of your behavior problem. Describe the history of the behavior and its current state. Next use some concepts from Chapter 5 to explain your behavior in terms of operant or classical conditioning. If you have a voluntary bad habit, explain how it was learned through operant conditioning.

b. In the next section, use concepts from Chapter 5 to come up with a plan to change your behavior.

1. Break down the goal into three steps. (e.g., First you will attempt to eat some amount of vegetables each week. Then you will eat at least three servings of vegetables per week. Finally you will reach your goal of eating at least one serving of vegetables per day). This will allow you to reinforce successive approximations towards your goal (shaping).

2. Identify at least one reinforcer (e.g., watching a movie, spending time with friends) that is likely to work for you. Make sure not to choose a reinforcement that you will give yourself even if you don’t earn them, such as eating dinner. In your plan, how and when will you earn the reinforcers?

3. Identify one positive punishment and one negative punishment that will help you stick to your plan. Punishments often need to be enforced by someone else. For example, one woman had a jar of money she used for fun activities and eating out. Every time she didn’t stick to her plan, her boyfriend would take $20 out of the jar (negative punishment). An example of positive punishment would be having to clean the toilet if you don’t stick to your plan. Be sure to clearly identify which type of punishment each example is.

c. Conclude by talking about the likelihood that you will implement the behavior plan, and your prediction for success. Identify potential barriers or problems, and talk about what you would need in order to overcome the barriers.

this is the book you need
Hinrichs, B.H. (2018). The Science of Psychology (2nd Ed). Minneapolis, MN: Ellipse Publishing ISBN-13: 978-0979012976

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